Question for the BTDT Parents - Vacation Styles

Discussion in 'Disney for Families' started by cadien, May 11, 2018.

  1. cadien

    cadien Mouseketeer

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    Hi! This question is primarily for those with grown kids and the experience of hindsight. But anyone's experiences growing up can help too.

    I will always have pretty limited vacation time, especially with us living 1200+ miles from both families and needing to use about half of that time every year to visit them. It means just one big trip a year and we are having a heck of a time prioritizing. Specifically between doing educational/cultural travel (which is also truly fun for our son) or just the pure recreation of going to the parks. I never did either one as a kid so I have nothing to draw on.

    How did you decide? And, looking back, is there anything you would have done differently now?
     
  2. LongLiveRafiki

    LongLiveRafiki DIS Veteran

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    I'm of the camp that you can make anything educational and fun. My kids are still young (7&2), but we haven't had the opportunity to go on many vacations, also due to work schedules and family being spread across several states. Most of our "vacations" have been to see family. We try to do something special each trip (go to a water park, camp for a night or two, stop and play at state parks on the drive, etc). We incorporate educational aspects by looking over maps, discussing geography, stopping at historical sites along the drive, discussing various aspects of nature, stuff like that.

    When we went to Disney last year, it was our first real recreation-based vacation. We did incorporate educational moments into it too though, because that's just how I roll. DD did extra chores before the trip to save money for souvenirs, compared maps of the parks to other places to give her an idea on the size of the place. When we were there, she practiced basic words in different languages in the World Showcase, we discussed a lot of the cultural stuff in the pavilions, did the kids stations in AK where she learned about ecology and animals, had numerous discussions with CMs about the countries they came from, practiced spending money responsibly/counting it out when buying souvenirs, discussed the technology behind some of the rides, reasons why and mechanics behind how the bus lowers for ECVs and why they board first, how the wall after Space Mountain knew her name. Probably lots of other stuff that I'm not even thinking.

    It wasn't all about education, we had a lot of fun too. There were just so many opportunities to incorporate learning into what we were doing, and most of it happened in the moment rather than being planned. DS was too young for the same kind of learning, but he did have to practice the art of not having instant gratification, ie ride lines and his speech exploded during and after the trip so it was obvious even he had a lot to talk about. We also had a blast at the parks when the kids just watched ducks or played on the light up carpets in the Imagination pavilion. We didn't plan for these things, they just kind of happened but were so relaxing and a nice break.

    Any trip is going to be what you make of it. Just spending time together on vacation will be a great bonding experience as a family, no matter where you are. I personally wouldn't worry so much about trying to focus on either education or recreation. Go where you want to go, have fun, and educational and relaxing moments will present themselves to you.
     
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  4. QueenIsabella

    QueenIsabella DIS Veteran

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    We mix it up in various ways. This year, we're taking a family tour of Europe (London, Paris, Rome); next year, it's a theme park trip. We'll be doing Universal, as we haven't been since DS12 was 3 (and too small to ride Harry Potter). He's a total Potter fiend. Our oldest still travels with us when she can--she lives 800 miles away with a full-time job. OTOH, DS21 still lives at home, is in college (different break schedule), and typically stays home (his choice).

    Sometimes when we do a theme park trip, we mix things up by doing non-theme park stuff on top of the parks. In Orlando, this has meant Gatorland, Seaworld, and the Children's Museum. We have one child who feels like she's missing out on life if she doesn't get educational stuff in there. Weird but true--she just can't enjoy herself, merely doing rides and shows. She's getting over this as she matures (she's now 15), but we tried to accommodate her learning style.
     
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  5. kat_lh

    kat_lh Mouseketeer

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    Like the above, we have a rotating schedule. We do international travel one year, a big domestic trip the second year and the third year is an off year. On the off year, we won't travel over the holidays and will spend the holidays with our family (we aren't 1200 miles away, but we're 8+ hours away.)

    We've found we don't really like to go back home over the holidays. Everyone is too buys to visit properly and we often feel like an afterthought. So we've started doing our own vacations over the holidays and trying to get one visit back home during an off time.

    Having a rotating schedule makes it easy for my husband and I to plan and the kids know what's coming as well so if they aren't particularly excited about one trip, they know they've got another big one coming in a year.
     
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  6. Hikergirl

    Hikergirl DIS Veteran

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    We mix it up, you don't have to do only one of those choices. Do one type one year, and the next year do another. Combine the 2 in to one vacation, or combine one of them when you travel to see family and do the other for your vacation.
     
  7. Klayfish

    Klayfish DIS Veteran

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    For us, it's purely fun/recreation. Our kids learn plenty at school. They'd be bored to tears with a visit to Williamsburg, VA or Boston or something like that...and frankly so would we. But that's just our style. You have to decide what you think is most enjoyable for your family.
     
  8. JustCallMeMommy

    JustCallMeMommy DIS Veteran

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    We do some of both. We aren't traveling specifically for educational travel, but we look for different fun places to go that have both fun and cultural aspects. We had access to a time share for 3 weeks one year, and it was fun considering new places to visit. We did one week in Orlando, one in Williamsburg, and one in Texas (about an hour from Dallas at a resort with a water park).

    Williamsburg is a good example where we had a lot of education and a lot of fun - for both adults and kids. On that trip, we toured Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and other historical attractions, plus we took a day trip to DC to visit the museums and the National Mall. We also did a day at Six Flags and two at their water park (we rented a cabana and had the best time, so we used our "unplanned" day to return).

    Our most recent trips have been a big trip to Europe and smaller trips to Chicago and New York, both of which focused on Broadway-type shows. Still to come this year, we're traveling twice for concerts, and we'll be making it back to Orlando next school year.
     
  9. Macprincess

    Macprincess Mouseketeer

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    I have a college junior, freshman and a high school age freshman. Most of our family vacations have been a mixture of family fun goof off time with a bit of education thrown in here and there. My kids all took (are taking) honors/AP courses in middle and high school. As they grew sports, jobs and internships have made any non interrupted family time extremely valuable. We found that once the oldest was in fourth grade we had to stop pulling the kids from school for vacations because it was far too difficult and stressful for them to miss school. Now that two are in college and doing quite well in their studies I do not regret that decision at all. Yet, to be honest by the time family vacations came around all of us were in need of an escape from the daily grind and needed mental breaks.

    We are Florida residents so most summers or during spring breaks we did a week in Orlando and more often then not we would have cousins, friend or girlfriends tagging along. So for us even though we have had many wonderful memories at WDW it isn't always our family vacation destination. When it came to family vacations we often took cues from what are children were naturally interested in and used these as a jump off point to plan vacations. For example, one of my children is a big history/political buff and another is a huge musical theater lover and my third is an inspiring writer. We did a combo trip where we flew to Washington DC and spent a few days there and then took the train to New York. My children loved that vacation. We also love heading to the mountains, staying in a cabin and enjoying all the amazing outdoor activities as a family. Caribbean cruises are a favorite too. In fact we are leaving next week for seven night cruise. My youngest is currently taking her second year of Spanish class on line this summer. Both she and my Mom also love cooking. They are really looking forward to spending the day in Puerto Rico where we have arranged for the two of them to work in the kitchen of a restaurant that a family friend owns. Basically, we might encourage our children to do something they are naturally interested in while on vacation. However, I doubt any of us would have liked using our extremely limited family vacation time doing purely educational journeys. Now that were entering the days where I'm pretty certain this will be our last vacation with just our family I'm most grateful we had our memories created with down time and had fun on vacation. My older two have made it very clear that moving forward they plan on bringing along their longtime girlfriends on family trips. Neither my husband or I am apposed to this as it both girls are practically family now but I will admitted I'm planning on relishing this vacation as just our family unit before it grows. I know you probably hear this all the time but our children grow up so quickly. As a Mom who is now watching her babies become adults stepping into their future I highly suggest that you find ways to do what you guys like together. Who cares if you're a bunch of History geeks or roller coaster junkies just embrace this time together because it doesn't last forever.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2018
  10. QueenIsabella

    QueenIsabella DIS Veteran

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    Okay, I have to go a little OT here, but you're really underestimating Boston! Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I'll say that (a) DH and I both grew up close to Boston, and (b) our oldest graduated from Boston University last year, and still lives in the area. When we lived closer, DH even had season tickets to the Red Sox. So, my bias is clear. But there's much more to Boston than the Freedom Trail (which, I agree, would be Yawn Central for me). On our past few trips (graduation and to visit DD), we visited the Boston Public Library, Science Museum, Eataly (yum!), New England Aquarium, and took a Duck Boat tour. They even let DH drive the duck boat--he was insufferable after that! If I were going to be there for more than a couple days, I would go on a whale watch--very interesting. I'll also mention, now that we live in the South (North Carolina), that history is taught very differently there versus here. It's kind of funny, my younger DD rocks at "Northern" history questions at school, and everyone looks at her like she has three heads, because they've been taught a different style? focus? of history.

    On a completely different subject, since I forgot to tell you this on the previous thread where we were discussing cars:

    DH's buddy was driving a 2013 Mustang Shelby Cobra (what DD15 refers to as "the Shelby"--she still talks about her ride in it!). Buddy bought it as a stock/stripped down model for ~$100k. He later sold it to a lawyer with "more dollars than sense" (DH's words), who souped it up. He put in a 900 HP engine to replace the 600 HP one and made other modifications to it. Then he loaned it back to Dh's buddy, who used to be a professional race car driver, so he could drive it for a week and work out all the bugs. So, that's how the Shelby wound up in my driveway.
     
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  11. Klayfish

    Klayfish DIS Veteran

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    I have a lot of respect for Boston. It's beautiful from what I know of it. Haven't seen a ton of it...though I do fly in and out of Logan at least twice per year for my racing hobby. I know it's full of history and culture and I'm sure there's plenty to do. But for us, vacation is about "mindless" (I don't mean that in a negative way) fun, entertainment and relaxing. Theme parks, amusement parks, beaches (though I'll get bored if there isn't something else to do nearby) or other similar entertainment are what we enjoy. Actually, if we don't go to WDW or the beach, we'll often to stay-cations. Those are a ton of fun. Spend 7-10 days at home, going to the movies, out to eat, or other day trip type things.

    Very cool on the Mustang Cobra. Yeah, you can invest a ton of money in those things and they're highly sought after by collectors. Very nice cars, just out of my price range right now, unless we're talking about the Hot Wheels version. :D
     
  12. QueenIsabella

    QueenIsabella DIS Veteran

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    Our choice for "mindless" these days is Myrtle Beach. We live fairly close, so it's super easy. We decide what we want to when we get there--the only exception being an escape room (always a hit with our crew, so always on the agenda). The last time we were there, the kids just wanted to stay at the resort and order take-out. A more ambitious family could find plenty to do.

    Another thing we do, every single summer for the past 21 years, is go to a ranch in upstate NY. This started as a gift from my MIL--she wanted the cousins to have quality summer time fun together, so she sprung for both her sons' families to go for a week. It's a lot of fun--you can do a lot of things--banana boating, horseback riding, rock climbing, etc., or you can do nothing. We're driving up, then DD22 and our niece (age 21) will join us for a few days. If I ever suggested not going, you'd find my body like the victim on "Orient Express", all the different knife wounds...
     
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  13. Klayfish

    Klayfish DIS Veteran

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    Myrtle Beach has been on our contenders list for many years. I went there often as a kid/teenager and really like it. The reason we haven't gone is that rental houses there are silly expensive. For the money, we have just continued to choose WDW. Myrtle is a solid contender for 2019 summer vacation, but if the money works out, so are the Bahamas (we're veterans of Atlantis and LOVE the place).
     
  14. QueenIsabella

    QueenIsabella DIS Veteran

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    We rent a condo and go in shoulder season--NC has a different spring break than SC (week before Easter), so it's warm enough, but not super hot or crowded. Also, we live coastal, so the ocean isn't such a big draw for my kids--we have a year-round beach pass at home and can go on a whim. Plus bring the dog. So, shoulder season works for us. Someone looking to actually go into the ocean would have to consider it more carefully. And I imagine it's total gridlock in prime season.
     
  15. mi*vida*loca

    mi*vida*loca Collect memories, not things

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    When my kids were younger it was pure fun and recreation. Now that they are older we branch out. My son likes to see new places and loves history. So does DD. When we do all inclusive resorts they like to do historical excursions. They love going to NYC. They enjoy the Baltimore Harbor, DC and Boston. These wouldn't have been fun when they were younger.
     
  16. jalapeno_pretzel

    jalapeno_pretzel Mouseketeer

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    No reason you can't mix it up. We've been to Disney several times but if asked their favorite family trip they will say Iceland.

    Also, as far as visiting family, we find it more fun when we meet somewhere in the middle and all vacation at the same time. Then everyone is on vacation, and we don't feel in the way as they're trying to manage work and kids around our visit.
     
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  17. BLAZEY

    BLAZEY DIS Veteran

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    We try vary our vacations a bit. At a young age even Disney can be educational, especially Epcot. As we do not live in the US, Disney is international travel, so DD9 has learned about going through border crossings/ customs, exchanging currency and the different denominations, places on the maps. She is in French Immersion at school (all classes are taught in French) so at the world showcase, she was able to speak French at our(Canadian) pavilion and st the one for France. We have also done trips to UK, France and Spain. Last year we drove down to Oregon to visit friends and went to OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry). In 2014 when DD was 5 we went to the UK we visited many castles and she learn that Queen Elizabeth is also the Queen of Canada. Many of the castles, churches and other sites had children's books about the history of the site. We bought a few and they made for great bedtime reading. She "met" Mary Queen of Scots at Edinburgh Castle and learned about some of the castle's history and a dance that would have been performed during Mary's time there.
     
  18. QueenIsabella

    QueenIsabella DIS Veteran

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    A little OT, but I have to say--there's nothing like international travel to get kids interested in history! We leave for Europe, a month from today (not that I'm counting, ha ha!). I took my girls to Italy last summer, and left DS(now)12 home, because I didn't think he'd appreciate it. But this time, he's going, and he's so excited and enthusiastic about seeing new places and learning about them. We're doing London, Paris, Umbria, and Rome--enough familiar mixed with more unusual.

    I'm a little concerned about him and the border crossings--I know he'll have to go through customs on his own (with me behind him, but I can't be at the podium). But, DD15 let him know what this is like. SHe's now experienced, and looking forward to future travel.

    It's kind of funny on the castles--BIL/SIL were in Ireland last month, and they found a castle that traces back to their family. It's a real unique fixer-upper opportunity, but how cool to have a family castle, even if it's missing the roof.
     
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  19. BLAZEY

    BLAZEY DIS Veteran

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    Why would he have to do the border crossing/ customs on his own? Every time we've done it, they called households together. I just had to fill out a separate immigration card card for her when entering the UK, but we've always gone together as a group to speak with the border officer.
     
  20. QueenIsabella

    QueenIsabella DIS Veteran

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    When we went to Italy last year, they had DD(then)14 go separately. They waved me back--I assumed I could go with her. When we were departing, they also talked to her separately. Not in a bad way--they asked what she liked to do in her spare time, where she went to school. It was kind of funny--on the return home, I went first, and my agent asked me about pets. Then the agent next to her called up DD, and I said to my agent, "I hope they don't ask her about her dog, we'll be here all day!" And the other agent goes to DD, "Now, I know not to ask you about your dog..."

    I don't know what age they start this at--I can't imagine sending a very young child through alone--or if it varies by country. DS12 is actually taller than me and both his sisters at this point.
     
  21. HopperFan

    HopperFan "It's a bug-eat-bug world out there, princess."

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    Mine are grown and we spent the first 10 years 1000 miles away from family. We had no internet, facetime, email or even free long distance.

    One thing it took a couple trips for me to realize was .... we had traveled 1000 miles, I was not going to spend my vacation time running around visiting everyone else. We would have a big get together and invite all to come to us and spend time. If they didn't make it ... I knew we did all we could do. We had a couple dinners where the closest family were invited. What this meant was that my trips could be split ........... half in the "hometown" and the other half we would drive on to Disney or the beach ... then return home. Sometimes my Mom would come with us.

    Some trips were total combos where we traveled where we wanted but the Grandparents joined us so we could visit and explore together. We have family across the country that we all met at Disney World. Spent about half our time together and it was awesome. These trips make for some great memories. We also did combo trips where we could go visit great grandparents for a couple complete attention to them days ... then on to our destination.

    We also invited family to come visit us so we were enjoyed them on their vacation time.

    These days I would consider inviting all on a cruise. We have done it a few times with a group of relatives and it worked out well.
     

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